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Remember: Cedar Beach Parkway 3: Allentown's Gateway Park

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cedar Beach Parkway 3: Allentown's Gateway Park

Parking in the lot just off of Parkway boulevard, in front of the Parks and Recreation headquarters will allow access to the 1.3 mile looping trail at the west end of Cedar Beach. I am going to call this the revitalization loop. As it is, the walk is beautiful.

This is also the best way to become acquainted with the upcoming revitalization program. It is on this trail that the major part of Phase one will begin. After crossing this bridge

over the Little Lehigh, the part of the Parkway you will be walking through will soon be reforested and allowed to regain the characteristics of natural growth.

Further along, you will reach the pavilion and picnic area which will be undergoing major renovations that include columns styled after the numerous WPA stone projects around Allentown.

This area of the trail will also become part of the Life Path which is an exercise program designed for seniors.

As you reach the curve of the path near Ott Street, you will soon be able to see the epic new playground being built across the street. If you continue across Ott and abandon the path a bit you will come into one of the most used sections of Cedar Beach Parkway. It is here you will find the pool, basketball courts and volleyball courts. You will also encounter a large sign detailing the upcoming projects.

Back across the street and on the revitalization loop you will pass the currently emptied ponds and the Rose Gardens. Inside the Rose Garden a wedding trellis and stone path will be added. Hearing they were going to go in and change the Rose Gardens was a little scary but learning about why and exactly what they are going to do there from Greg on Monday was very reassuring. If you are still not a fan of a path in the Rose Gardens, please consider how difficult it would be to visit the Rose Gardens if you were confined to a wheelchair. I get the path.

To the left of the path, a bit of Cedar Beach Parkway’s future is visible on the banks of the creek where they have allowed nature to take control:

CBP is the most used park in the city. It is logical to upgrade the place and increase its already exceptional accessibility and functionality. If they were going to fill the Lehigh Parkway with playgrounds, I’d be writing a different and more upset post here today. Refitting the basketball courts to allow more seating and better lighting is going to provide many citizens with an excellent and free place to not only play a game of pick up but it will allow extra space and considerations for the numerous tournaments played there yearly.

The playground being built will be the playground destination of Allentown. It will draw people out of downtown and into CBP for what might be the first time. It will lure people from the west end and points north who have either already been familiar with CBP and stopped coming in favor of some suburban edifice or who haven’t been by in a while because they need a place to take the kids.

The gravel revitalization path will be lighted. I hope that means more welcome access to the park at night. All in all, this plan is going to help the city of Allentown in many ways. Ideally, it will serve as another drawing point of our already legendary park system for outsiders as well as citizens. After looking over all the plans for CBP and speaking with Greg Weitzel, I think it would be a good idea to call the new CBP, Allentown’s Gateway Park.

These renovations will open this park up in many ways that not even the Lehigh Parkway is opened. Given its location, just outside the heart of the city and how visible it already is being buffeted by two major arteries, these renovations will be dramatic and noticeable. CBP will advertise itself. I hope it leads to even more people using the park and in turn leads Allentonians into our other great parks. Trexler Park is just across the street at the west end of CBP after all. (Don’t forget to check this out, as the city intends to make all parks accessible to one another through a trail system)

We owe much of our park system to the efforts of the WPA. As important as it is to preserve and identify what was done during that time and the city is doing that and will continue to and expand their effort to do so; we must consider these new plans WPA 2.0. The renovations will leave a mark on Allentown for as long as we are around to see it. CBP, following the great work done in West Park is still just the beginning.

As Cedar Beach Parkway is redone and turned into our Gateway Park, I will document the construction progress on this blog. I’m looking forward to watching the evolution.

(If you are on Facebook make sure to become a fan of the Parks and Recreation page. You can add me too if you are so inclined.)



Blogger michael molovinsky said...

i respectfully disagree. practically every aspect of this plan is detrimental to the park system. visit the park west of ott street after heavy rains and notice the vast flooding, a natural occurrence because it's a valley between the elevated west end and the elevated hamilton park area. this flooding creates a fragile soil condition not conducive to increased use. the plan to light the park trail is second in commercialization only to lights in the parkway. the reforestation of the open spaces is also a negative. already mayfair plans to expand into the rose garden side of ott st. if the orchard planted on previous open space above cedar beach pool remained open space, this expansion would not be necessary. the beauty of the allentown park system was it's passive nature. the destination playground is the biggest insult. which kids can cross hamilton street safely. how will intercity kids get there?. how will a city with budget problems provide maintenance and security? please don't compare the wpa steps and walls with this disneyland plan.
this park system is one of the few remaining jewels of allentown. any plan of this magnitude deserved much, much more public input. a few afternoon meetings does not an informed public make.

June 4, 2009 at 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Monkey Momma said...

Andrew -
Haven't had much time to comment here, but I've been reading your blog entries, and I love them. What a beautiful exploration of our local treasures. All politics aside, this is a great examination of the best Allentown has to offer. Thanks for writing all of this, and keep up the good work.

June 4, 2009 at 5:51 PM  

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